Category Archives: Letters To The Editor

Tiree and Coll proposed Special Protection Area (SPA)

proposed_spaWe would like to draw people’s attention to the below proposed SPA around Tiree and Coll and the possible implications for Tiree’s economy.

Having met with four SNH representatives and one from Marine Scotland in Oban at the end of August we have concluded that this is an ill thought, under researched and un-necessary designation that appears to solve a problem that doesn’t exist. There has been no direct consultation with local marine stakeholders other than a token open day after the plans had been drawn up and submitted.

Unfortunately the less information that is given to the public, which is clearly one of their strategies, the easier it is to force designations like this through the back door. The proposal gives no clear indication of what management measures may be brought in should the designation go ahead. Any answers to our questions on this were preceded by the words, “we think”, “maybe”, or “possibly”. Not words which fill you with confidence when planning the future of your business.

Sadly the track record of SPA’s, SAC’s, and MPA’s that have already been designated round Scotland have been forced through with complete disregard for local views and concerns while consistently changing management measures once designated.

Two of the few success stories on the Island in the last twenty years have been Fishing and Watersports/ Marine Tourism. Two industries that this proposal could ultimately have grave implications for by bringing in needless management measures.

We urge people to read through the documents on the SNH website and submit a response at – Highlighting their concerns at the lack of local communication, local consultation and disregard for the people and the Islands economy.

The consultation closes on the 26th September 2016.

Neil MacPhail, Coinneach MacKinnon

A Testament to Hard Work

letters to editor

Dear Madam

Following a most refreshing and enjoyable holiday on Tiree, I wanted to write to you to congratulate everyone involved in the very successful A’Bhuain celebrations which took place over the last week. This really was a fantastic event and its success is a testament to the hard work that the members of the organising committee and the local community have put in over several months. Everyone we spoke to expressed just how much they had enjoyed A’Bhuain, how well organised it was and what a fantastic range of events and activities were on offer. We really had a fantastic time. It is always great to visit Tiree and especially so when there is the opportunity to join in such an interesting and well-run community celebration which is brought about by the hard work, dedication and commitment of local people. I hope that all those involved have now had a chance to rest and relax after all their hard work, and please accept my thanks and congratulations for your efforts which mean so much to people who live on the island and in whose hearts Tiree holds a very special place.

Le gach deagh dhùrachd,

Dick Walsh Council Leader

A Memorable Event

letters to editor

Can I kindly use your paper to thank the committee of A’ Bhuain and everyone else who took part to make the week such a wonderful success. From the Church service on the Sunday to the sound of the pipes saying goodbye to the Clansman on the Saturday. Words cannot express the pride one felt at the sterling work that had gone on behind the scenes to bring such a feeling of satisfaction to everyone there .The air was full of laughter and happiness all week. The lovely lunches put on by the various organisations only served to make the place more friendly than ever. The fantastic opening ceremony with Gordon Connell and others especially the children was a great start for the week. The talks the outings, the concerts and ceilidhs added greatly to the enjoyment. And of course the weather!! Over the past 50years of my musical career I have been in lots of venues all over Britain even Windsor Castle. NONE OF THEM BEAT A’ BHUAIN! It even surpassed the Mòd!! I was proud to have been invited to take part and SO proud of you all WELL DONE. Mòran Taing Ethel NicChaluim.

Open For Business?

letters to editor

I can’t help feeling that Michael Russel MSP’s comments on the A83 Rest and Be Thankful (R&BT) stretch sound rather worrying.

It is all very well to deflect saying that “the key message must be that Argyll is open for business” and that “anyone who gives a different impression will do damage to the area” but does he really imagine that the almost weekly media reports we have heard and read throughout this winter concerning the closure or partial blocking of that road are somehow damaging to Argyll or in any way hushable? Hokum, it only damages those who govern while the road fails to deliver. Business people in Argyll and serving Argyll are not daft and will not believe the A83 is “open for business” when their vehicles physically cannot get through, especially when we have all recently witnessed the alternative route closed simultaneously thanks to flooding.

But this does not close Argyll, it is just an irritating nuisance caused by lack of proper management and investment. The reality is that a protective tunnel in the Alpine style, designed to shed all subsequent landslides and protect traffic should have been funded from the start. The only reason this did not happen, according to Keith Murray the Area Manager for Transport Scotland who wrote to me recently, was that “The (tunnel) option was, however, rejected for further consideration, since similar benefits can be achieved with other options in the study at lower cost and with a lower potential environmental impact.” He also went on to use the seemingly mandatory “Argyll remains open for business” mantra so perhaps he has been advised by the incumbent political propaganda department.

There are several important points that need picked up from these statements. The unfit for purpose situation we are forced to tolerate at the R&BT is the result of cheap scrimping by governing politicians, much the same as the Forth Road Bridge maintenances that were reportedly timeously missed, except that the Argyll – Glasgow connection clearly matters less in our governers minds than the Fife – Edinburgh connection. You can’t make a silk purse from a sow’s ear, nor can you protect the A83 traffic with a mesh net and the injured people in the two vehicles caught in the most recent landslide are thankfully living proof of that fact. ‘Similar benefits’ to those that would be afforded by the construction of a permanent tunnel cannot in fact be achieved by the more affordable methods currently adopted. Fact. Also, nobody gives a tuppeny hoot, in a world where the Chinese buy over forty thousand new cars every day, whether the cheaper R&BT options currently plumped for come at a “lower potential environmental impact”. Fact. Providing a permanent, fail-safe solution to the everlasting landslide problem at the R&BT is a practical problem that no politician can solve.

This is a matter for a top drawer engineer and the only action the politicians and high ranking civil servants need to take is to make sure the required funding is in place for the real solution to be built. I think we all now know that the more skilled and successful the politician, the less we can believe what they want us to believe. We can only hope they come to their senses before we vote them back out of government.


we don’t want fewer closures, we want no closures

Note that both Michael Russel and Keith Murray are keen that we should be impressed by the amount of money that has been spent on the cheaper options effected to date. Mr Russel states “over £40 million on the A83 so far – there were fewer closures than previous years”. Well the winter’s not finished yet. And Mr Murray “over £48 million maintaining the A83 since 2007 -this includes £9 million at the R&BT”. Surely not much in an era when we can spend £776 million on the controversial Edinburgh trams and £414 million on a questionable new building for the Scottish parliament? The trouble with that line of argument is that many of us don’t believe the cost saving really will achieve anything worthwhile in the long run and we don’t want fewer closures, we want no closures. That will require the expensive tunnel option, then the A83 will really be ‘open for business’.

MSP comments on Rest and Be Thankful closure.

If we all continue to work together we will continue to get progress

Today’s (5th Jan) closure is a setback but safety has to be paramount.

None the less it is very important that local people and visitors continue to see progress with work on the A83 at the Rest & Be Thankful to guarantee continuous access. There is huge concern about the Rest as I know from my frequent discussions about it with Ministers and officials but the key message must be that Argyll is, and will remain, open for business. Anyone who gives a different impression will do damage to the area.

Last year, as a result of that the Scottish Government’s acceptance of the principle of continuous access, and because of the money already spent – over £40 million on the A83 in total so far – there were fewer closures than in previous years. But more needs to be done and I have asked for an urgent meeting of the task force to consider the latest difficulties and look at plans for more investment in practical solutions. The closure on the 30th December was on a day that produced road closures across the country in unprecedented numbers. No road is immune from weather problems in such circumstances. If we all continue to work together we will continue to get progress. That is what I am focused on.

Terrific Tiree

I got back from Tiree yesterday and wanted to tell you how much I absolutely loved it.

I’ve been to many of the Hebridean islands but Tiree is without doubt one of the most beautiful and friendliest. It has everything you hope an island to be in Scotland, many stunning beaches – all magical in their own way, swathes of the most beautiful wild flowers and the excitement of watching kite surfers, wind surfers, kayakers and others who connect with the sea in a most exhilarating way.

I can’t do water sports because I have a physical disability, but I came away from Edinburgh (where I live) to read, write, seek some sort of solace and meet interesting people on the way! What I didn’t expect was how I managed to get to do some of these things. I hitched!

I have never hitched in my life before despite being told it’s fine to do so on Tiree. On the day, hardworking ‘Dial-A-Bus’ Nancy did her tour, I had no choice but to do so! Every car with spare space picked me up. I met Andrew who took me around much of the island to ‘Blue Beyond’ a stunning gallery of pictures and pottery, locals from Hynish and Vaul Bay and some couples and families enjoying their summer holiday on the way. Some of the folk staying at the hostel (including film Director Paulo) and David (owner of Millhouse hostel) took me around the island too stopping by Tiree Pottery where I managed to pick up a few unique and beautiful items.

All these people had a ‘story’ and for each person I took away a ‘part of them’ to cherish forever. Tiree is without doubt my favourite holiday destination thus far and I’d like to thank everyone on Tiree for making it so, especially David.

Setting The Record Straight

letters to editor

In response to the article in the Oban Times on Thursday 7th May, which suggested that Hugh Fernley Whittingstall had applied for a council grant for this year’s TMF, Stewart MacLennan and myself just wanted to address the inaccuracies in this article.

Stewart MacLennan, Director of Operations at Tiree Music Festival (TMF):

“The Argyll and Bute grant was applied for to help with logistical costs for Argyll Foods (eg Loch Fyne Oysters) and also to support the local efforts to deliver Tiree produce at the festival, through Beachcomber, a Tiree business. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall generously agreed to help us promote the festival – entirely out of his own goodwill and desire to help. It is the Year of Food and Drink Scotland and by approving part of the funding application, Argyll and Bute council have recognised the importance of bringing a local flavour to the festival, in turn supporting food producers, crofters and fishermen in the region.”

With his passion for local produce, and for Tiree, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall introduced me to his River Cottage star graduate chef Sam Lomas, and together with Hugh we are planning a tasty menu around what is available on the island, and in season at this year’s TMF. Our “pop-up”, (which, with Hugh’s blessing, will be called River Cottage @ the Beachcomber) will bring festival goers the very best produce from our own Tiree fishermen and crofter’s. Hugh has been very generous with his time and knowledge and I am hugely grateful for his support. Sadly his summer filming commitments mean he won’t be able to join us at TMF this year. Any assumption from the Oban Times article, that Hugh or River Cottage are profiting financially from this venture, or from council funding, is entirely wrong.

If you are selling Tiree fish, shellfish, potatoes, eggs and/or meat this summer please let me know as I am always looking for suppliers. or 01879 220590

Loch a Phuill and Loch Bhasapol Fishing

letters to editor

Many’s the time I have fished these waters with my companions, catching trout on barbless hooks and returning them to the water, drinking tea and putting the world to right, and spotting the odd otter with a bit luck. But that was a few years ago.

Being a former secretary of the Tiree Angling Club I feel that you and your readers should know the position of fishing in these waters now. Several years ago the Club had the lease of the waters from Argyll Estates but one year the Estate refused to renew the lease but in fairness to them they still allowed members of the Club to fish the waters albeit each member had to purchase a permit from them.

This year one of our members applied for a permit and was told by Argyll Estates that no permits were being issued and he would no longer be allowed to fish on the waters. On pursuing this matter I have since found out that six permits will be made available for local residents so Argyll Estates are still not saying that you cannot fish they are just making it a bit more difficult to do so. Permits last year cost £90 but this year a permit will cost £200 with restrictions in as much as a permit holder will only be allowed to fish ten times.

I think it is incredible that in this day and age Argyll Estates can ride roughshod over individuals living on the island and increase the cost of a fishing permit by over 100% and stipulate the number of times they may use it. One would wonders if they are trying to keep local residents from fishing the waters by their pricing and rules policy and that they may have more lucrative rods to fish the waters and local rods would just be a nuisance.

I would be interested to hear view points from other An Tirisdeach readers on this matter.

Bill Campbell

Price Change Commentary


The price of An Tirisdeach increased with the last edition. Many of you have shared your views on these changes but requested not to be named. Your comments have been passed to the Directors allowing an opportunity to reply

An Tirisdeach hopes to provide a response in the next edition.


Cost Increase

As the paper cost has increased why is An Tirisdeach not in colour?

It is difficult to see who are in the pictures when they are in black and white.

Why was the increase not enough to make sure it was in colour?

It’s a community paper, so why can’t the Community have An Tirisdeach in colour unless we take out an annual online subscription?

I buy An Tirisdeach in the co-op, there’s no postage costs, why can’t I have it in colour?

I used to enjoy the RSPB article when it was in colour, the black and white pictures are drab.

Online Subscription

I love having my online An Tirisdeach without leaving the house.

I am enjoying reading my online An Tirisdeach with a cup of coffee and it’s in colour.

I don’t want to have An Tirisdeach online, I like to pick it up and read it a wee bit at a time.

We read An Tirisdeach and pass it around the family. We encourage the children to discuss topical issues, we can’t do that with an online subscription.

I don’t want the newsletter online, I want to read An Tirisdeach with a cup of tea.

I don’t have the Internet.

A harrowing escape

I was clearing out my old emails and I’m embarrassed to admit I have overlooked this
editor’s letter.
I thought you may like to read about the reader’s frightening experience and relief to
have been rescued by local men.

I would be pleased if you could send out a heartfelt thank you to two amazing people, Adam Milne from Beachcomber and Suds from the surf school.

Saturday 9th August 2014, my boys aged 16 and 10, wanted to go wave jumping in Balevullin beach, the waves looked great and the water crystal clear. We picked a spot in the middle of the beach and jumped in and over the waves, within a few minutes I noticed that we had drifted a great deal to the left of the beach and were heading rapidly towards the rocks. My husband on the shore, called for us to swim back up the beach. I took hold of my youngest and propelled him sideward and my husband swam out and helped both boys ashore.

Unfortunately, I was not managing to make any progress and was just swimming with all my energy and getting nowhere. My husband raised the alarm on his way to shore with the boys and Adam Milne tried to rescue me but very soon we were both stuck and being pulled towards the rocks. I was also panicking by this point and my head kept plunging underwater. My husband swam back out to us both with a boogie board and we gratefully grabbed it and all 3 started swimming for shore.

Meanwhile, Suds headed out toward us on a surf board grabbed me on board and headed across the water and out on a wave. I came in to hugs from my boys and my dog. Suds explained that the place I had been pulled to was one of 2 rip currents that appear on the beach at high tide.

I have grown up next to the coast and lived near the sea all my life but was unaware of how to react in a rip current. Rip currents can move up to 8 feet per second, faster than any person can swim! They are caused by a break in the sand bank. I was unaware how to get myself out and was becoming panicked and exhausted. I would be pleased if you could tell my story to raise awareness of how to react in a rip current, and send my thanks to two people who came to help me and saved me from going under.

Thank you! – Allison Leslie

For those that are interested in learning more, here are a couple of links that explain rip currents and how to escape them:

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